A playground rises up in Mount Vernon


Parks define a city. Great cities have great parks and public spaces, and Baltimore has a rich variety - from breezy Federal Hill to the diverse pleasures of Druid Hill to the paths of Leakin Park.

In a few weeks, an extraordinary new venue will be added to Baltimore's rich collection. The Mount Vernon Children's Park, designed by landscape architecture firm Floura Teeter as an "oasis within the city," will be opened to the public.

Construction of the park, squeezed into a narrow sliver of city-owned land at the northeast corner of Calvert and Madison streets, has been funded by foundations, corporations, local businesses and gifts from neighborhood residents.

A visual centerpiece of the $300,000 park is an elaborate arbor designed and constructed by metal sculptor David Hess, who twisted dozens of stainless steel tubes in his Phoenix studio and then welded them together to create the striking form.

The park has been designed to fit comfortably with the rows of stately brick townhouses that define the Mount Vernon neighborhood.

There will be a wrought-iron fence, decorative paving, slides, seesaws, climbing towers and a computerized water feature that will spray, mist and shoot water.

Benches and tables near the arbor on the park's upper level are designed to be inviting to parents or lunchtime visitors, said Joan Floura of the design firm.

The playground equipment is expected to be installed in early May. Then there will be a neighborhood cleanup party before the park's official opening May 20.

- Larry Williams

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